Producer’s Hub Series: Cymatics’ Sam Winter.
Following his graduation from high school in Ottawa just this year, Sam Winter – now known by many of you as Sam Cymatics – moved out to Vancouver to live with his friend and business partner, “Kermode.” The two now work together as full-time employees for the world’s preeminent sample pack company, Cymatics.
Sam and Kermode, who only met in person for the first time following the move, had started the now defunct “Frequency Quest” together just recently. Skyping on an almost daily basis to co-ordinate their venture, they enjoyed a great deal of success in short order, offering video tutorials, software, and more. So much so, that Drew and Steven, the founders of Cymatics, recognized their talents and promptly absorbed them both.
Cymatics, for those who don’t know, has taken the music industry by storm as the undisputed number one sample pack company, and just held its inaugural anniversary week. The company, which built its reputation giving back to the community through innumerable giveaways and free production resources, stayed true to form with a week of crazy, crazy deals on all sorts of synths, drums, project files, studio components, and more. Sam chatted with us to offer his insights regarding work habits, learning production, and more.
What has been your journey in production thus far? Was there any defining moment at which point you thought “Hey, I could really do this seriously,” or was it just a natural progression?
I’ve always been surrounded by musicians and music, my whole life. I grew up playing guitar and piano, though I only got into music production when I was 12. I just started by recording little guitar covers to some of my favourite songs. As the years went on, I found out about electronic music and wanted to learn how to make it. I got to a point where I’d spend all my free time producing music and reading about sound engineering.
I originally wanted to study sound engineering after high school but when it was time for me to decide what school I wanted to go to I quickly started second guessing the idea and ended up never going to college. It’s possible to be a music producer without a school diploma. I just preferred the internet as my learning resource.
I don’t ever recall having the realization of thinking “Hey, I could really do this seriously as a career”. I was just convinced that, if someone else is already doing it, I can too. It’s felt like my natural path thus far and I have never second guessed my decision. I only really started pursuing my music career seriously, within the past year, and have dedicated all my time to working toward my musical aspirations.
How did you get in touch with Cymatics? What’s been your experience with them?
It’s funny how it all happened. I have a friend, Kermode, who I met on Soundcloud 2 years ago and am now living with. As Cymatics was just starting their business, we started to follow them and see what they were doing. They’re just two young guys, who turned their passion into their career. That was a huge eye opener to me. Kermode and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and try to pursue something similar which could help us further our individual music projects.
We didn’t want to copy them and just be another sample pack company, so we decided to go down an educational route and started posting youtube tutorials under our business name “Frequency Quest”.
You see, every producer is going the same direction, and they’re all taking the same boat to get there.
When Kermode and I started Frequency Quest, we got so much recognition, so fast, because we were giving value to the producer community. Everyone knew Kermode as “Hey you’re the guy who makes awesome tutorials!” That was our “Purple Cow” to stand out from the crowd.
Anyways, after 4 months or so, Drew from Cymatics hit up Kermode, and asked if he wanted to do a few guest tutorials for them. They were so busy at the time they couldn’t manage to put out enough content. So we saw that as an opportunity to help each other out. We’d get huge exposure for making a tutorial for their Youtube channel while it’s free content for them. After about a month of doing that, they asked us if we wanted to join their team full time. It came at the cost of stopping Frequency Quest, but working for Cymatics has, and will, open up so many doors for us which may have been much further down the road if we stuck with our own thing.
The nugget you can take out of this answer is: we didn’t get absorbed by Cymatics because we are extraordinary producers or much different from anyone else. They recognized us because we stood out from the crowd for doing our own thing.
We have the same mindset as they do. I don’t consider myself a music producer more than I consider myself an entrepreneur who produces music.
Is there anyone in particular whose sound design or music in general you really look up to?
Definitely. The top guys that come to mind right now are KOAN Sound, Culprate, Tennyson and Mr.Bill.
I think having a wide variety of influencers is incredibly important to being unique and standing out from the norm. Artists rarely create anything new and unheard of, it’s all just recycled and re-interpreted ideas. There’s so much music out there you couldn’t listen to all of it in your whole lifetime. Listening to music is like eating food. Listening to one genre of music would eventually lead to an unbalanced influential diet.
I think, to become a well rounded and creative producer, it’s important to have a well rounded influential circle.
I still don’t do it as much as I’d like to, but I think it’s important to take the time to find new music everyday. Not just electronic music, look for some old classics to get inspired by!
What’s one thing that someone just getting into production should figure out or learn early on?
There isn’t really just “one thing”. It’s a combination of a million different practices, habits and lessons that pile up over time. Though, one thing I can say, is to be self aware.
Always analyze yourself, see how high your standards are and keep pushing them higher. You can only improve if you know what needs to be improved on.
Another incredibly powerful thing to take part in is collaboration. There is so much to be learned from other producers. Become friends with them first, get to know them, and then collaborate! It’s like having a mentor, someone you can learn from. I think that’s one of the most valuable things to have. Another good way to get better, is to listen to incredibly engineered/produced music. Study it, dissect it and try to reverse engineer it.
Continuously compare your productions to the ones of the artists you look up to, and see what you can improve on, to get there.
How do you balance songwriting for personal enjoyment and working on, as an example, designing presets for work?
Simple, I finish my work hours during the week and write music in my free time. I try to keep my tasks and “work” organized so I can do one thing at a time instead of spreading my attention to thin over several things.
How has your knowledge of sound design helped you in creating your own tracks?
It’s quite simple, sounds are the ingredients to a musical cake. I can either buy a generic cake mix at the store, or I can make all the ingredients myself. Making the ingredients myself allows for many more possibilities. It also results in a much more unique cake!
NOTE: Be sure to check out Cymatics’ website for some crazy sample packs, project files, and much more! In addition to a ton of great paid content, they have perhaps the most comprehensive library of sounds and software available for free download – some amazing value there, so that’s a must for all aspiring producers.
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